I do try to simplify my life. But, of course, I'll find some pet topic on one of the forums, and I'll read about it and talk about it, and it'll just consume my time. I'll try to take a hiatus, but before I know it, I'm pulled into a conversation about some alt-right political topic, and that just gets the ball rolling.
So, once more, The Intellectual Life has red-meat advice for me, and all you other smart cats out there:
In order that everything in you should be directed towards your work, it is not enough to organize yourself within, definitely to settle your vocation and to make wise use of your powers; you must further arrange your exterior life, I mean in respect of its framework, its obligations, its contacts, its setting.
One word suggests itself here before any other: you must simplify your life. You have a difficult journey before you-do not burden yourself with too much baggage. Perhaps you are not absolutely free to do this, and so you think there is no use laying down rules. That is a mistake. Given the same external circumstances, a desire for simplification can do much, and what one cannot get rid of outwardly, one can always remove from one's soul.
"Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" says the Law: wise and peaceful work must not be associated with the noisy and spasmodic interruptions of a life all on the outside. Under this form again a certain asceticism is the duty of the thinker. Contemplation, whether religious or secular, scientific, artistic, or literary, is not compatible with the complications and burdens of an excessively comfortable life. "Big men have little beds," notes Henri Lavedan. There is a luxury tax to be paid on intellectual greatness. Our talent will not be ruined by the ten per cent which is the price of our privilege. The tax is paid, rather, by our faults, and certainly by our temptations; and this brings us a double advantage.
If you want to entertain knowledge as your guest, you do not need rare furniture, nor numerous servants. Much peace, a little beauty, certain conveniences that save time, are all that is necessary.
Slacken the tempo of your life. Receptions, visits that give rise to fresh obligations, formal intercourse with one's neighbors, all the complicated ritual of an artificial life that so many men of the world secretly detest-these things are not for a worker. Society life is fatal to study. Display and dissipation of mind are mortal enemies of thought. When one thinks of a man of genius, one does not imagine him dining out.
Do not let yourself get entangled in that mesh of occupations which little by little monopolizes time, thought, resources, powers. Conventions must not dictate to you. Be your own guide; obey your convictions, not mere custom; and the convictions of an intellectual must correspond to the goal at which he is aiming.
Vocation means concentration. The intellectual is consecrated; let him not scatter himself in exacting futilities. Let him throw all his resources into the fire of inspiration, as Bernard Palissy sacrificed his furniture. The work and the conditions that further it are the whole thing. Money and attention squandered on trifles would be much better spent in collecting a library, providing for instructive travel or restful holidays, going to hear music which rekindles inspiration, and so on.
Whatever furthers your work is always timely; what impedes it and entangles you is to be put away, for, besides the immediate drawbacks, you are thus driven to work for profit and you deflect your effort. The priest has the right to live by the altar and the man of study by his work; but one does not say Mass for money and one must not think and write for money.
Suppose you are of the number of those who have to earn their living otherwise than by the work they love, how will you preserve the few hours at your disposal if your life is over-full? You must reduce matter to the minimum, so as to lighten and liberate the spirit.
Well, I'd better stop wasting time here, and get back to what I was originally focused on.